Salvation is one of the “themes” of the Scriptures, and is expressed in some form in the many accounts and narratives recorded. In the Old Testament, the word salvation sometimes refers to deliverance from danger <Jer.15:20>, from an oppressor <Psa.35:9‑10>. It can also refer to national deliverance from military threat <Ex.14:13>, or release from captivity <Psa.14:7>. Man’s universal need for salvation is one of the clearest teachings of the Bible. Salvation can be described as: “the act of saving or protecting from harm, risk, loss etc:” “the state of being saved or protected……” “a source, cause or means of being saved or protected…” “deliverance from the power and penalty of sin; redemption…” (Webster’s Dictionary) these definitions are observed throughout the Scriptures, and there are other facts about salvation contained in the Scriptures as well.
REQUIREMENT: man’s need for salvation originated in his expulsion from the Garden of Eden, and since then life for mankind has been marked by strife and difficulty; increasingly, corruption and violence has dominated our world. God used the nation of Israel to illustrate the subject of salvation, and the central experience of Old Testament salvation is the Exodus from Egypt. The nation of Israel, although delivered from bondage, consistently disobeyed God’s commands and ended up in captivity once again. God promised a “new and better” Exodus <Jer.31:31‑34>, and Israel’s return from captivity failed to fulfill all these hopes. So, a new understanding arose: the full realization of God’s purpose of salvation would involve the coming of a completely new age <Isa.65:17‑25>; and this doctrine of salvation reached its fulfilment in the death of Christ on our behalf. Jesus’ mission was to save the world from sin and the wrath of God <Matt.1:21; John 12:47; Rom.5:9>. The salvation that comes through Christ may be described in three tenses: past, present and future.
IT WAS PROMISED: at the fall of mankind when Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command the promise was made: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” <Gen.3:15 (NIV)>; and again, repeated to Abraham many years later <see Gen.12:2-3 (NIV) >
THE SOURCE/MEANS: (“a source, cause or means of being saved or protected”): the method was ordained by God in the birth, death and resurrection of His Son: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” <Matt.1:21 (NIV); see Jn.3:14, 16-17; Heb.2:14-15 >.
IT IS FOR ALL PEOPLE: although the promise was made to the Jewish nation it encompasses all people: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” <Rom.1:16 (NIV)>
IT WAS ACCOMPLISHED BY SHED BLOOD: (“the act of saving or protecting from harm, risk or loss”), the blood shed on the cross by our saviour The Lord Jesus Christ: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” <Rom.5:8-9 (NIV)>
THE WAY: all sinners must come to God in the same manner: “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” <Rom.10:9 (NIV)>; “[God]… made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions‑‑ it is by grace you have been saved. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith‑‑ and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” <Eph.2:5, 8 (NIV); see also 1 Thess.5:9; 2 Thess.2:13; Jn.3:3, 5>.
IT IS THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS: anyone that was put to death on a cross symbolized being under a curse, and Christ was made a curse as our substitute: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” <1 Cor.1:18 (NIV); see also Deut.21:23; Gal.3:13>
IT IS NOT TO BE DELAYED/DISMISSED: for some the message may only be heard once; “For he says…….I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” <2 Cor.6:2 (NIV); Eph.1:13>.
THE SOURCE: Jesus Christ is the ONLY source of salvation: “and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” <Heb.5:9 (NIV) >
THE ACCOMPLISHMENT: Christ’s sacrifice was “once and for all” and there will be no other way to be saved from sin’s penalty and God’s wrath: “so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” <Heb.9:28 (NIV); 1 Pet.1:5 >.
THE BIBLICAL TRUTH: Salvation is the work of God by which man is saved from the eternal doom of sin. In salvation, God gives to man the riches of his grace, meaning, eternal life both now and forever. Salvation, therefore, is the work of God and NOT a work of man for God. Salvation is the “new birth” which Jesus described to Nicodemus <John 3:3‑7>: it is a spiritual birth, and the only way to become a Christian is to be “born again” through the work of The Holy Spirit. The Hebrew and Greek meaning of salvation implies the ideas of deliverance, safety, and preservation; and until a person is “born again”, that person is lost and has no assurance of deliverance, safety or preservation. Good works will never bring salvation, and being a “good person” is not salvation, for the Bible declares that we are not saved by good works <Eph.2:8‑10>.
SALVATION ‑‑ THE PURPOSE OF GOD: It was conceived in the mind of God before the world was formed; “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” <Eph.1:4 (NIV)>. Salvation is the result of God’s foreknowledge ‑ not an afterthought; <1 Pet.1:20; Titus 1:2>. Salvation is the result of the Grace of God, not of anything we can or might do. Grace means “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”<2 Tim.1:9; Titus 2:11>. Salvation is offered because of God’s love to mankind <Rom.5:8; cf 1 John 4:9>
SALVATION BEFORE THE CROSS: God dealt with sin before the cross by atonement, meaning that sin was “covered” by the Levitical offerings <see Lev.16>, until, and in anticipation of the cross, but did not “take away” those sins <Heb.9:15>. “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished”<Rom.3:25 (NIV)>; note that in this verse the writer states that sins committed before the cross were unpunished, because the Levitical offering was in anticipation of the supreme Sacrifice of Christ. God had promised a Lamb <Gen.3:15; 22:8> and had forgiven sin on the basis of His promise. Paul in his address to the Athenians on Mars Hill indicated that God had overlooked the times of “ignorance” to God’s word, but the new command for all people everywhere is to repent <Acts.17:30>.
SALVATION AFTER THE CROSS: God’s method of dealing with sin since Christ died is based upon ONE OFFERING ‑ which is the offering of Christ upon the cross: “But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God…because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” <Heb.10:12, 14 (NIV)>; and in His death Christ did not “cover sin” but took away or cleansed sin: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” <Jn.1:29 (NIV); Col.2:14>.
THE PRICE OF SALVATION: God’s Son, Jesus Christ, had to die in order to provide salvation, and by His death, burial and resurrection He provided a way of salvation for all humanity: “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” <Rom.8:11 (NIV)>. Jesus suffered for the sins of the world, “that He might bring us to God”: “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit” <1 Pet.3:18 (NIV)>. In His suffering His blood was shed for the remission or forgiveness of sin; <Matt.26:28 (NIV)>
SALVATION – THE THREE PHASES:
 PAST: Christ saves from the guilt and penalty of past sins, because Christ became sin for all who will believe: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” <2 Cor.5:21 (NIV); Rom.8:3: Gal.3:13; 1 Jn.3:5 (NIV)>. Christ will save all who come to Him seeking His forgiveness, for He has declared that He is not willing that any should perish. The final decision, however, is left up to the individual; God never forces anyone to accept Him even though it is not His will that any should perish <2 Pet.3:9 (NIV)>.  PRESENT: once the past has been forgiven, God now delivers the believer from the Power of sin on a day‑to‑day basis, because Christ “ever lives” to make intercession for us. Even though we may be saved we are still prone to sin: “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” <Rom.6:4 (NIV); Heb.7:25; 1 Jn.2:1>. The Christian can thus live a victorious life over sin, even though the two natures within us are constantly at war striving to control us. The apostle Paul speaks about this conflict in his own life and he tells us that he was victorious, and so can we. The Holy Spirit settles the strife in the believer’s life. <see Rom.7:17‑8:3>.  FUTURE: One day the Lord Jesus will take all His redeemed ones from the “presence” of sin, this is His promise to all those who have accepted His salvation. “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” <Jn.14:2-3 (NIV); Heb.9:28; 1 Pet.1:4-5>. Although Christians are not yet perfect, God sees us as such: we are sons of God NOW, we do not have to wait until some future time. On that day when Christ returns for us, He will make the distinction, and only those who are “sons” will go to be with Him <1 Jn.3:1-2 (NIV)>
SALVATION ‑‑ THE FREE GIFT OF GOD: Salvation is God’s free gift to mankind and is available to ALL who will believe: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith‑‑ and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God‑‑ not by works, so that no one can boast.” <Eph.2:8-9 (NIV)> Since salvation is a free gift it must be accepted by the sinner who must first admit and confess that he/she is a sinner and is worthy of the penalty for sin which is spiritual death or eternal separation from God <Rom.3:23 (NIV); Rom.6:23>. All mankind is faced with the great decision: accept the “wages” or the “gift”; it is an individual decision and the choice is left to every person born into this world. “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live ……..For the LORD is your life” <Deut.30:15, 19-20 (NIV)>
The power to live the Christian life is given to all who believe, even though we are all prone to sinning <Jn.1:12 (NIV); 1 Jn.1:9>. The Lord is willing to forgive; but this is not a licence for believers to willfully sin. When we do sin, as we most definitely will, Jesus Christ is our advocate with the Father, and we must seek God’s pardon by confessing our sin to Him and request His forgiveness.
CONCLUSION: “Salvation comes from God”: rest and confidence are the experience of the child of God <see Psa.62:1-2>. Satan’s job is to capitalize on the fragile condition of saints and sinners. He never gives up and his assault is continuous: he knows that we have no strength of our own to withstand his attacks: we are like the “leaning wall” or “tottering fence”; this was David’s experience because of his enemies and this is also our experience as a result of Satan’s attacks upon us. <see Psa.62:3-4> We are encouraged to “trust” in God at all times and in all situations because our “salvation depends on God”, we are exhorted to “pour out” our hearts to Him. <Psa. 62:5-8> Our social standing means nothing to God, because we can never “measure up” to His standards, “if weighed on a balance they are nothing”; neither riches or wealth can buy us entrance into His kingdom <Psa.62:9-10>. God has spoken and David has heard two things: “You O God are strong…You O Lord are loving” <Psa.62:11-12>. As we consider God’s salvation these two things should also be evident to us.
SALVATION: Was very costly to God <Gen.22:2,8,13; Psa.22:1‑18; Heb.2:10,14‑17>: is the LORD (JEHOVAH) <Ex.15:2>: is a free gift of a Holy God to a sinful world <John 3:16>: is obtained only by believing on the Son of God and receiving Him as saviour <Acts 16:31,34>: is an act of faith <Eph.2:8>: requires a personal decision <John 1:12>: cannot be attained by Church membership or by anyone acting on our behalf <Acts 4:12>: cannot be inherited or purchased <Isa.55:1>: changes the heart, mind and every part of a person: we become a “new creation” <2 Cor.5:17>: is revealed by the Scriptures <2 Tim.3:15>: is everlasting <Isa.45:17; Heb.5:9>: was not understood by the prophets (or angels) <1 Pet.1:10‑12>: is a promise of God <Psa.34:18; Acts 2:21; 13:26; Rom.10:9; 10:13>. We never become good enough to be saved because we can never attain a degree of excellence good enough for God. Once we trust Christ to be our saviour, however, God sees us as being perfect in Christ <Eph.2:1‑6>, and we can be confident “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” <Phil.1:6>.
Is the word “salvation” relevant in today’s society? Yes, it is! Is the word “salvation” offensive to people today? Yes, it is! Should the word be changed or modernized? No, it should not! It was used by our Lord in His day, and it still carries the same meaning today: it is a word that all can comprehend. Salvation is so simple that all can understand it, but unfortunately there are those today who seek to make it complicated. There are those who say that the normal person cannot understand what God’s word means and they either reject it or give their own interpretation and rules. Some people look for salvation in things and people, rather than looking to God; while others live in fear of what the future without God holds for them. There are people who refuse to accept what God’s word says in regard to sin and its consequences and enter into unnecessary dialogues, debates and arguments as to why the Bible should be rejected.
We are saved by the grace of God, and His divine grace will not last indefinitely for He has set a day in which it will come to an end, therefore:
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
<Heb.4:7b; cf Psa.95:7b-11>.